I have to admit, Ron Paul is the most interesting Republican candidate at the moment. I don't like his in your talk about the Iraq War. The 2009 Iraq will be something different from the 2007 Iraq. The next president needs to deal with the existing reality and not simply relive Bush's folly of 2003.
I have never fathomed Bush's reasons for invading Iraq. I can't help but think that George Bush the Second was trying to relive the fact that the war of his father's failed to solve the Sadam Hussein problem.
Ron Paul is correct in noting that the US tends to lose the wars that it fails to declare. For many decades, the Republican party was the party that demanded that we play by the Constitution and declare war before engaging in combat.
Declaring war has two positive effects: The declaration forces a period of deliberation before a war. The politcal process of declaring war also gets people on the same page.
The tactics of our enemy in the war on terror is to kill their own people until their self destructive devastation rips the US assunder and causes us to become neurotic. Had we engaged in true debate before the invasion, we would be better equipped to sit through the current terror. Of course, if we had engaged in the dialogue that the Constitution demands, we probably would have realized that our diplomatic effort was succeeding and we were not justified in expanding the War on Terror to include an invasion of Iraq.
Bush would have had zero problems getting the US to Declare War against the Taliban.
The interesting thing about Afghanistan is that, after the invasion, the US Military, the business community and the humanitarian world were united in trying to rebuild Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and other terrorist elements were pretty much stymied in their actions. Since there was a general feeling that the war was justified and that we were united in rebuilding the country, any atrocity committed by the terrorists would be correctly recognized as an atrocity committed by the terrorists.
The shortcuts Bush and Rumsfeld took to invade Iraq destroyed that unity and has created the political climate where Bush's enemies can claim the atrocities committed by the terrorists are the result of Bush. The failure to deliberate and build consensus that would have been needed to declare war has created this absurdity where terrorists can tear our society apart by killing the innocent people of Iraq. The American Founders apparently realized this when they wrote the constitution. Colin Powell realized this when he argued for the Powell Doctrine.
Anyway, Ron Paul is the closest thing to a classical liberal candidate that we've seen since Goldwater. I wish he would acknowledge that he can't relive Bush's blunder ... just as George Bush the second was unable to relive the end of the wars of George Bush the first.
If we can hold out through 2008, the next presidency will start with a newly elected Iraqi government. The next presidency will start at that point. The Iraqi policy should be driven by the needs of that government, and not by the hubris of the Bush administration.
So, while Ron Paul is the most interesting of the current candidates, I worry that he will burn himself out on the wrong issue. The need to follow the rules and declare war before engaging in war is part of the classical liberal way of thinking. This great failure of the Bush adminstration is something that happened in 2001 and 2003. This issue is only a small portion of classical liberal thinking. I would hate to see these richer thoughts become marginalized in the election as people concentrate on Ron Pauls sensational war stance.